An Eastern Kentucky fire that claimed the lives of one adult and four children may have been started by a space heater.
The blaze that destroyed a rural house near Pikeville is considered by authorities to be one of the worst fires they've encountered in the region in quite some time. According to WDRB, officials currently believe that a space heater may have responsible for the recent tragedy.
Pike County Emergency Management Coordinator Doug Tackett said five people died in the blaze that occurred outside of Pikeville on Wednesday morning. Another person who is believed to be the mother was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington for treatment.
All of the bodies recovered from the destroyed house were found in the living room. Officials said they believe the family was sleeping around the space heater around the time the blaze started.
County Judge-Executive spokesman Brandon Roberts said this is the worst fire to hit the area in several years. Six children and four adults reportedly died in a house fire in Bardstown in February of 2007.
"I can't remember a whole family perishing in a fire in my lifetime," Roberts said. "It's just, 'Oh God.' "
According to ABC News, the mother has been identified as Tammie Tucker. A spokesperson for the UK Medical Center said she was in critical condition as Wednesday afternoon. The mother reportedly suffered severe burns during the fire.
Glema Blair, the children's great-aunt, explained that she and Tucker's father James did their best to help during the fire. Unfortunately, the blaze was so fierce that Blair suffered second-degree burns just getting close to the house.
Fire officials stated the fire started in the living room where the space heater was discovered. However, an official cause for the tragic Eastern Kentucky fire has not yet been determined.